If you are involved in an automobile accident in Florida, call 911 right away. A 911 call will automatically record that an accident occurred, will dispatch the police, and will allow you to request medical assistance. Florida law states that drivers are required to contact the police as soon as possible after an accident when:
- there is bodily injury or death
- the accident involved an intoxicated driver or a hit-and-run
- property damage appears to exceed $500
Given the cost of car repair nowadays, most accidents will cause at least $500 in damage. And since it is possible for injuries to become apparent hours or days after the accident, it is better to contact the police so that a thorough record of the accident is logged.
Do not allow the other driver to talk you into not calling the police. The other driver may have reasons to want to avoid police involvement, but you need to protect your own interests, both your health and your financial interests. Call the police so there will be a police report.
The police report will prevent a situation in which it is one person’s memory against another person’s. It will preserve evidence that could be very helpful if you need to file a personal injury lawsuit in Florida. And it will improve the cooperation of witnesses, who may not want to go on record if you ask them, but will answer the police if asked. The presence of the police can also prevent another driver from refusing to give you his or her insurance information or from becoming uncooperative, angry, or violent.
While you’re waiting for the police, if you are able, take as many pictures as you can from different angles or ask someone else to do so for you. Be careful of your own health, since even a headache after an accident can indicate back, neck, or head trauma and you should move with caution. Have someone take a picture of your position in the car when the impact occurred. Take a picture with the car door open (whichever door you were near, as driver or passenger) so your entire body can be seen in the car. If your head was turned on impact, turn your head.
What to say to the police
When the police arrive and take your statement, be respectful and succinct, answering any questions truthfully, but do not elaborate. Do not speculate. Do not admit fault.
Get the police officer’s name, badge number, and the agency that he or she represents so you can request an accident report from the correct organization. The police may be from the local police department, the sheriff’s office, or the Florida Highway Patrol, so knowing whom to contact will speed up your ability to get the report.
Why you should get the police report
A police report can be critical in a personal injury case or even when dealing with your insurance company. The report will include detailed information such as:
- Precise time and date of the accident
- Precise location of the accident
- The names, driver’s license numbers, vehicle identification numbers, and insurance information of all drivers and cars involved
- A description of the damage done to the vehicles or other property or structures
- Weather conditions and traffic conditions
- Detailed reports regarding any injuries known at the time of the incident
- Statements of the drivers involved
- Statements of any witnesses
- Any other additional information specific to the situation
This is a very thorough report, but there may be errors and it could be incomplete if your injuries become apparent or worsen after the report was written. So it’s critical for you to get a copy of the report and read it over thoroughly.
Contact the local police who were dispatched, or request a copy from FLHSMV. There may be a small fee. Review the report thoroughly and note any discrepancies.
As a personal injury attorney and life-long Florida resident, I have ample experience helping clients look through complex police reports and helping them make the changes that need to be made in order to record the information correctly. Accurate information can make the difference between a small compensation and a significant compensation for damages you may have sustained due to the accident.
I’m dedicated to helping injured Floridians get the compensation they need to live as comfortably as possible following an injury. I will dive deeply into the details of your case to discover any and all factors involved in your accident in order to present the strongest argument for compensation. I have a long track record of winning significant awards in court or in settlements. Contact me today at (954) 448-7288 so that we can discuss the details of your accident.